Croatia has been called the best sailing destination in 2019 but we predict it’ll top the list for years to come. A Croatian sailing holiday allows you to experience a Mediterranean paradise of turquoise seas, quiet, colourful islands and picturesque port towns steeped in history, delicious fresh seafood and friendly, welcoming locals – this according to Sun Sail, the world-leader in sailing holidays.
Pentravel Expert Melissa recently hopped onto a Sun Sail holiday, and spent her time seeking out the coves, waterfalls, ancient forts and lush, green forests along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.
We caught up with her for a quick Q&A.
What were your first impressions of Croatia?
I was instantly blown away. The drive from the airport to Dubrovnik was just beautiful. You are surrounded by rocky mountains and then down below, the sparkling Adriatic Sea. Croatia has so much charm and beauty, particularly the tiny towns with their cobbled streets and amazing food!
Did your first impressions match your expectations?
Definitely not – it was so much more. You always envision a place before travelling there, and one hears about the beautiful water and the general charm of the quaint villages and islands of Croatia but until you see and experience it for yourself, you can’t quite imagine the beauty.
Tell us about the yacht – we want to know all the details!
The yacht was amazing. We had an 8–sleeper catamaran with 4 cabins – each with an en-suite bathroom. At the front of the catamaran was a sitting area where we could watch as we came into port each day and at the back, we had another big sitting area where we enjoyed many sundowners!
The cabins are small, so the double beds fit from wall to wall, but you don’t spend much time in them at all! One definitely needs to pack lightly and to use soft travel bags due to space. Luckily, in Croatia all you need is flip flops, a swimsuit, sarong, shorts, t-shirts and dresses.
What about the cruise?
We set sail from Dubrovnik on a 5-night roundtrip cruise in which we visited Okuklje, Polace and Pomena on Mljet Island, Lumbarda on Korcula, Sipanska Luka on Sipan Island and of course Dubrovnik.
All the islands offered their own uniqueness, but I loved our stop in Pomena where we walked in the national park and around the salt lakes and took a ferry across to the island of Saint Mary, a Benedictine Monastery. It was truly spectacular and a great experience.
What is a typical day on board?
We would wake at 8am with coffee and sit with our skipper and plan the day ahead and decide where we would moor for the night. After breakfast we would head out and sometimes sail for 3 hours. During this time some of us would read, chat, or just enjoy the stunning scenery.
Once we arrived at our destination we would then go exploring. At night we would either make dinner on board or visit one of the local restaurants. If you use one of the local marinas, which is free, then it’s expected that you eat in the family restaurant for dinner, which is lovely as you get to experience their authentic cuisine. The seafood in particular is amazing.
What did you love most about the trip?
The whole experience! It was so wonderful to get to explore Croatia from the water. It was so relaxing, and I loved the flexibility of the trip. It’s the perfect way to spend time with friends or family and we got to moor in the smallest villages which larger vessels don’t visit.
What did you love most about Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik is definitely a must in terms of exploring. There’s a little market and the old city itself is full of history!
What did you love most about the food?
I am a big fan of seafood and Croatia has an abundance of offerings. One night we even had octopus, tentacles and all! We tried their local peka which is vegetables with meat or seafood, cooked on a fire. They also have amazing pastries and chocolate.
What advice would you give to someone interested in this trip?
Travelling from June onwards for warmer weather is a must. When you are on yacht or catamaran you want to be able to stop and swim, snorkel and kayak. Sun Sail skippers are very knowledgeable about the area and will advise where best to stop and what to see and do. Your skipper becomes part of your ‘family’ on board and joins you for meals.
I would definitely advise that you plan your budget beforehand. Since it’s self-catering it’s best to know how much you want to spend and work around that. Docking at a marina costs extra but then you can eat in town at a restaurant of your choice as well as make use of the marina facilities, like large showers with plenty of hot water and even hair dryers.
Any travel tips you’d like to share with first-time cruisers?
Cruising is the perfect way to see Croatia. It’s fun, flexible and relaxing. You get the opportunity to see and explore little towns as well as experience the local food, places of interest and interact with the locals. I would highly recommend this option for families or groups of friends.